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Worldwide food recall patterns over an eleven month period: A country perspective

Tamás Nepusz12, Andrea Petróczi2* and Declan P Naughton2

Author Affiliations

1 Budapest University of Technology and Economics, Department of Measurement and Information Systems, H-1521 Budapest, P.O. Box 91, Hungary

2 School of Life Sciences, Kingston University, Penrhyn Road, Kingston, London, KT1 2EE, UK

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BMC Public Health 2008, 8:308  doi:10.1186/1471-2458-8-308

Published: 10 September 2008



Following the World Health Organization Forum in November 2007, the Beijing Declaration recognized the importance of food safety along with the rights of all individuals to a safe and adequate diet. The aim of this study is to retrospectively analyze the patterns in food alert and recall by countries to identify the principal hazard generators and gatekeepers of food safety in the eleven months leading up to the Declaration.


The food recall data set was collected by the Laboratory of the Government Chemist (LGC, UK) over the period from January to November 2007. Statistics were computed with the focus reporting patterns by the 117 countries. The complexity of the recorded interrelations was depicted as a network constructed from structural properties contained in the data. The analysed network properties included degrees, weighted degrees, modularity and k-core decomposition. Network analyses of the reports, based on 'country making report' (detector) and 'country reported on' (transgressor), revealed that the network is organized around a dominant core.


Ten countries were reported for sixty per cent of all faulty products marketed, with the top 5 countries having received between 100 to 281 reports. Further analysis of the dominant core revealed that out of the top five transgressors three made no reports (in the order China > Turkey > Iran). The top ten detectors account for three quarters of reports with three > 300 (Italy: 406, Germany: 340, United Kingdom: 322).


Of the 117 countries studied, the vast majority of food reports are made by 10 countries, with EU countries predominating. The majority of the faulty foodstuffs originate in ten countries with four major producers making no reports. This pattern is very distant from that proposed by the Beijing Declaration which urges all countries to take responsibility for the provision of safe and adequate diets for their nationals.